Obama in Europe reax

Josh Marshall, TalkingPointsMemo:

Obama’s trip through the Middle East was not only error-free but wildly successful (because of Maliki’s gambit). …

I don’t think watching Obama walk on water in Europe (or in whatever lakes or rivers they have available) will goose his poll numbers. It may even have a bit of the reverse effect. The key was banking a solid trip abroad, an audition for the head of state/commander-in-chief role, that he’ll be able to refer back to (mostly implicitly, sometimes explicitly) during the tough weeks ahead in the fall.

Obama and 200,000 Berliners(photo by Callie Shell, Time)

200,000 people attended Obama’s speech in Berlin. Karen Tumulty, Time:

Berliners lined up to hear the speech more than five hours before it began. All day long, hundreds waited on the streets to catch a glimpse of the motorcade that shuttled Obama among meetings with German officials.

Gerald Baker, Times of London, having a little fun with the Obama-as-Messiah meme:

And it came to pass, in the eighth year of the reign of the evil Bush the Younger (The Ignorant), when the whole land from the Arabian desert to the shores of the Great Lakes had been laid barren, that a Child appeared in the wilderness. …

And so it was, in the fullness of time, before the harvest month of the appointed year, the Child ventured forth — for the first time — to bring the light unto all the world. …

He went forth to Mesopotamia where he was received by the great ruler al-Maliki, and al-Maliki spake unto him and blessed his Sixteen Month Troop Withdrawal Plan even as the imperial warrior Petraeus tried to destroy it. …

From there the Child went up to the city of Jerusalem, and entered through the gate seated on an ass. The crowds of network anchors who had followed him from afar cheered “Hosanna” and waved great palm fronds and strewed them at his feet. …

Thence he travelled west to Mount Sarkozy. Even the beauteous Princess Carla of the tribe of the Bruni was struck by awe and she was great in love with the Child, but he was tempted not.

(Note re Carla Bruni:  i.e., the fashion model, latterly the mistress then wife of France’s President Sarkozy. Not tempted? — now that’s messianic!)

Finally, Judith Bonesky, Bild, upon encountering Obama in a gym, is overcome by said messianic fervor:

He curled 32 kilo dumbbells next to me. … I put my arm around his hip … wow, he didn’t even sweat! WHAT A MAN!

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13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Random
    Jul 28, 2008 @ 05:37:50

    I actually saw quite a bit of Obama in Berlin live – one advantage of him being only one time zone away, for once (I was cooking dinner and the news channel was on in the background). Ye gods, but the coverage was cloying! The tone of the media was more appropriate for a papal visit than for an election campaign stop (I kid you not – the news channel actually introduced their live coverage with the headline “An audience in Berlin”, and this was Sky News, which is the UK sister channel of the Fox network! You can probably imagine what the BBC was like…). I hasten to add that the tone of the media coverage is not a criticism of Obama himself but the campaign ought to be more careful not to encourage it – this sort of thing can easily cause a backlash. The fact that, as the Baker article shows, the “Obamessiah” meme is going worldwide is a sign that this could be happening.

    It’s not true that the trip was error free BTW, it’s more that he wasn’t called on the errors he did make. Take for example this and this showing that his behaviour at the Western Wall did not exactly impress the Israelis. Also there was the bit in his Berlin speech where he boasted about how he looked different to any other American who had come to Berlin to give a speech which was not only tactless (“Great” I thought, “just what Berlin needs – a politician who goes there to deliver speeches to mass rallies about his racial uniqueness” ) but also innacurate (Martin Luther King gave a speech there in 1963, and Jesse Jackson did in 1983 – and of course Colin Powell and Condi Rice have been in town many times as part of their duties as Secretary of State, but I guess none of them are as authentically black as Obama).

    I probably should also mention his unprecedented rudeness at declining to hold a joint press conference with the prime minister during his trip to London, but frankly Gordon Brown is so venomously unpopular at the moment I can’t bring myself to blame Obama for not wanting to do this. By all accounts he got on much better with the leader of the Conservative Party anyway (who is also young, charismatic, forward-looking, yaddayaddayadda…).

    Oh, and one small point – it’s unfair to Bruni to describe her as having been Sarkozy’s mistress. Their relationship didn’t start up until certainly after Sarkozy’s wife left him, and probably not until after the divorce came through (I don’t recall the precise timeline). “Girlfriend” at most, in other words. But yeah, she is hot.

    All this is somewhat churlish cavilling though, there’s no doubt Obama has had a good week.

    Reply

  2. Stephen
    Jul 28, 2008 @ 07:41:16

    Thanks for bringing a European perspective, Random. I agree with you (there — twice in one week on this blog) that Obama is dangerously close to overkill.

    On the plus side, he got a lot of media attention this week, and I still think his trip was error free.

    (Is it really fair to blame Obama for not bringing his own kipa with him to the Wailing Wall? He’s not Jewish, after all. The Middle East is a treacherous place for a politician to open his mouth, and the main thing is, Obama didn’t stick his foot in it. He didn’t give McCain an opening to belittle him.)

    But the images really do feed into the “Obama as Messiah” meme, and the “Obama as Europe’s candidate” meme, and even the “arrogant Obama” meme. Does he think he’s already head of state?! I thought the Gerald Baker column succeeded as satire (unlike the New Yorker cover) because it touched on a point of real sensitivity.

    Still, I began the post with a quote from Josh Marshall because I think he’s got it bang on: “The key was banking a solid trip abroad, an audition for the head of state / commander-in-chief role, that he’ll be able to refer back to during the tough weeks ahead in the fall.” I think that’s right, and I think Obama succeeded by that measure.

    Reply

  3. Random
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 07:03:36

    “Is it really fair to blame Obama for not bringing his own kipa with him to the Wailing Wall? He’s not Jewish, after all. ”

    As the article I linked to showed, McCain managed it. I have to say to me the more significant issue was the handing out of campaign material – it certainly plays to the “arrogant Obama” meme if he gives the impression that he believes even the Western Wall is significant mainly as a campaign prop. (Personal disclosure here – I’ve been to Jerusalem and went to the Wall with the full intention of praying at it, but backed out at the last minute because it seemed so very Jewish and sacred that I honestly didn’t know how to approach it without unintentionally giving offence as a gentile. That Obama – or at least his people – seem to have been sufficiently unaware of this sensibility that they saw nothing wrong with handing out campaign material grates on me. Some things are more important than politics.)

    “the main thing is, Obama didn’t stick his foot in it. He didn’t give McCain an opening to belittle him.”

    Not in the middle-east he didn’t, but he did in Germany. The reason why he was in that gym so that the Bild journalist could gush like a teenage girl meeting Brad Pitt was because he’d cancelled a visit to meet with wounded American soldiers because the Pentagon wouldn’t let him take the media with him – apparently if there was no publicity in it for Obama it wasn’t worth doing. The McCain camp have indeed been making some headway with this.

    “But the images really do feed into the “Obama as Messiah” meme, ”

    Emphatically agree. look at that picture above again, and especially that bizarre catwalk he’s on – are the blue sides supposed to subliminally suggest to the crowd (at ground level) that he’s walking on water, or something? (And please, even if you think this is an overwrought interpretation, please accept it as evidence of how once a meme like this gets established how easy it is to find evidence that reinforces it.)

    “Does he think he’s already head of state?! ”

    Again, agreed. He actually requested the Brandenburg Gate as his first choice of venue only to be turned down (after some anguish and after not a small amount of pressure had been applied) by the German government on the exact grounds that only heads of state qualify for that and he wasn’t one, yet. This is something Obama needs to be especially careful about – if he gives the impression (or merely allows the impression to grow) that he believes he’s already won and that the actual election is a meaningless formality, then he’s risking people voting against him just to prove their votes do count. He should have a word with Hillary and ask her how well “inevitability” worked as a campaign tactic for her.

    “I think that’s right, and I think Obama succeeded by that measure.”

    Agree yet again. I said in my first post that on balance he’d had a good week, after all.

    Reply

  4. Stephen
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 08:06:59

    The reason why he was in that gym so that the Bild journalist could gush like a teenage girl meeting Brad Pitt was because he’d cancelled a visit to meet with wounded American soldiers because the Pentagon wouldn’t let him take the media with him – apparently if there was no publicity in it for Obama it wasn’t worth doing.

    I strongly object to this particular smear from McCain, and I’m disappointed to hear it coming from you. Here’s a response from Obama’s team, via Ben Smith:

    Senator McCain knows full well that Senator Obama strongly supports and honors our troops, which is what makes this attack so disingenuous. Senator Obama was honored to meet with our men and women in uniform in Iraq and Afghanistan this week and has visited wounded soldiers at Walter Reed numerous times. This politicization of our soldiers is exactly what Senator Obama sought to avoid, and it’s not worthy of Senator McCain or the ‘civil’ campaign he claimed he would run.

    I think that’s exactly right. McCain knows that Obama supports the troops. He’s smearing Obama with an allegation that he knows is unfounded. And in doing so, he’s playing politics with the troops. Shame on him. And I’m disappointed that you can’t be more critical of your preferred candidate when he stoops to B.S. like this.

    Returning to Obama’s trip to Israel: it was a bigger success than I initially realized. Here’s an insight, courtesy of the Globe and Mail:

    In private meetings with Israel’s political and security chiefs, a higher bar was set. Mr. Obama was judged on his grasp of the strategic issues facing the country and the quality of his policy team. …

    Mr. Obama had to show fluency in a region that’s been dramatically redrawn since a Democratic president last engaged in Israeli-Arab issues.

    Against this redrawn map, Israel’s triangle of explosive strategic dilemmas — Iran, Syria and the Palestinians, was placed squarely on the table. George W. Bush’s focus on fighting terror, and his inaction on Israel-Palestinian talks, earned him kudos in some Jewish circles, but not with Israel’s security establishment.

    What they expected to hear was Mr. Obama’s geo-strategic take on the Middle East and assurances that it wasn’t inimical to Israel’s interests. On Iran, Israel has been concerned that Mr. Obama’s preference for engagement might amount to appeasement. (Not because Israel wants a military option – it recognizes the perils – but because the overwhelming consensus in Israel is zero tolerance for a nuclear Iran.) Mr. Obama’s firm stance against Iran’s nuclear development, his articulation of engagement as a means rather than an end and his formula of “bigger carrots and bigger sticks” helped to assuage these concerns.

    On Syria, Israel welcomed signals that Mr. Obama would invest political capital in a political track. Israel’s leaders have been frustrated with Mr. Bush’s unwillingness to support a process that, if successful, could yield Israel significant strategic gains (albeit at the price of withdrawing from the Golan Heights). Syria’s connection to Iran and its role in Lebanon render U.S. engagement critical to progress in talks between Israel and Syria, and Mr. Obama’s Middle East paradigm includes such a role.

    Also note this piece from the Jerusalem Post, once again via Ben Smith. The gist of it is, both President Bush and John McCain had to rely on others to steer them through Israeli politics, while Obama tackled the topic alone:

    Two months ago in the Oval Office, President George W. Bush, coming to the end of a two-term presidency and presumably as expert on Israeli-Palestinian policy as he is ever going to be, was accompanied by a team of no fewer than five advisers and spokespeople during a 40-minute interview with this writer and three other Israeli journalists.

    In March, on his whirlwind visit to Israel, Republican presidential nominee John McCain, one of whose primary strengths is said to be his intimate grasp of foreign affairs, chose to bring along Sen. Joe Lieberman to the interview our diplomatic correspondent Herb Keinon and I conducted with him, looked to Lieberman several times for reassurance on his answers and seemed a little flummoxed by a question relating to the nuances of settlement construction.

    On Wednesday evening, toward the end of his packed one-day visit here, Barack Obama, the Democratic senator who is leading the race for the White House and who lacks long years of foreign policy involvement, spoke to The Jerusalem Post with only a single aide in his King David Hotel room, and that aide’s sole contribution to the conversation was to suggest that the candidate and I switch seats so that our photographer would get better lighting for his pictures.

    While Obama was not making missteps in the treacherous Middle East, McCain kept sticking his foot in the manure while he was posing for silly photo ops in the USA. In particular, his attempt to extend the surge backwards and equate it with the counterinsurgency was risible. But of course he had to do something to redeem himself, after suggesting that the surge created the conditions for the Anbar Awakening — which of course got the chronology backwards.

    McCain likes to portray Obama as inexperienced. But it’s Obama who looks Presidential, while McCain has made a series of unforced errors.

    Reply

  5. Random
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 08:58:44

    “I strongly object to this particular smear from McCain, and I’m disappointed to hear it coming from you. ”

    And I’m surprised to get such a vociferous reaction from you. Did you read the article I linked to? Because it’s the Pentagon, not me, who said that Obama was perfectly welcome to visit the wounded soldiers so long as he left the paraphenalia of a campaign behind, and the Obama campaign, not me, who said it was called off because it would be inappropriate to do it as a campaign event – the idea that Obama might have done it privately, without publicity, simply because it was a good thing in itself to do simply does not appear to have registered with the campaign (I reiterate – the Pentagon explicitly stated they would have been perfectly happy with this sort of visit). So yes, I stand by my criticism that Obama was more interested in being seen to meet with wounded soldiers than in meeting wounded soldiers.

    “Also note this piece from the Jerusalem Post, once again via Ben Smith. The gist of it is, both President Bush and John McCain had to rely on others to steer them through Israeli politics, while Obama tackled the topic alone”

    Hardly. I suggest you filter out the intermediary and go directly to the JPost interview, and then click through to the McCain interview, which is linked. It seems clear to me that the interviewer liked both men and thought either would be a good president from Israel’s POV (which you may choose to argue is a win from Obama’s POV as he had more to prove, but is a long way from the Obama brilliant/McCain useless spin you are putting on it). for that matter, I am not completely sure why trusting and respecting the expertise of a man like joe Lieberman counts as a character flaw anyway.

    BTW as we are now talking about the Israel visit, can I ask for a straight answer to a straight question – do you believe the Obama campaign behaved appropriately in taking campaign material to the Western Wall?

    “McCain kept sticking his foot in the manure while he was posing for silly photo ops in the USA.”

    You mean like this one with the Dalai Lama?

    “But of course he had to do something to redeem himself, after suggesting that the surge created the conditions for the Anbar Awakening — which of course got the chronology backwards.”

    Eh? As far as i can tell, the Anbar Awakening Council was founded in March 2007 and President Bush announced the surge in January, with the first extra troops arriving in February. It’s certainly true that the men behind the AAC had been trying to put something together for at least six months previously, but all the evidence I’ve seen is that it only really started to gain traction when the Americans committed to providing extra troops. It may be inaccurate to say the Surge created the Awakening, but it’s certainly not inaccurate to say that the Surge created the conditions to enable the Awakening to succeed.

    Reply

  6. Stephen
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 13:30:57

    From MSNBC:

    NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reports that there was never a plan for Obama to take the press to Landstuhl, despite the claim by McCain folks and others. The plan was to go with his military aide, retired General Scott Gration. The Pentagon said Gration was off-limits because he had joined the campaign — violating rules that it not be a political stop.

    Obama had gone to see wounded troops in Iraq earlier in the week, without even confirming he’d been there. No press, no pictures. He has done the same when he goes to Walter Reed — never any press.

    Let me repeat: John McCain knows perfectly well that Obama supports the troops. He is knowingly stating the opposite, which is (a) a lie; and (b) using the troops for political gain.

    It’s a shameful bit of politicking. You really need to maintain a critical distance from your candidate’s press releases.

    Reply

  7. Random
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 17:35:58

    “He is knowingly stating the opposite, which is (a) a lie;”

    Do you have a quote to support that? It’s a very serious charge after all. I’ve spent a fair amount of time now trawling johnmcain.com to find anything that would stand up this charge, and all I can see is it’s being used to attack Obama’s judgement and sense of priorities, nowhere is it being suggested that Obama doesn’t support the troops.

    “(b) using the troops for political gain.”

    You know, you really should avoid making an accusation like that the week after Obama has been receiving fawning coverage for such things as playing basketball with marines in Afghanistan.

    Look, even The New York Times is picking up something odd about this. Look at the statement from the Pentagon at the bottom of the article:

    “Senator Obama, in his official capacity, is always welcome to visit Landstuhl or any other military hospital. But it is not permitted to bring with him campaign staff. His team was notified of that, and they made a decision not to visit the hospital. But we were ready and willing to host him there. In fact, we had made arrangements for his campaign plane to land at Ramstein, and to take care of the campaign staff and press in a passenger terminal there, while the senator and senate staff, if he liked, went on to visit wounded warriors. They made a decision based on their own calculations not to visit. Senator Obama, like any other member of the senate, is always welcome to visit our wounded warriors or our military hospitals around the world. But they do so in their official capacity, and not as a candidate. He can come in and bring senate staffers as well, if he likes, but campaign staffers and press are not permitted to accompany him. That would be a violation of DoD directives.”

    It seems odd that they would mention he couldn’t have the media with him if his campaign had never asked for them to accompany him, and it’s even odder that the man you praise for meeting with the Israeli media on his own felt unable to meet American soldiers unless he was accompanied by General Gration.

    Frankly, being charitable for a moment, it seems to me that probably the most plausible explanation for this whole mess is that Obama was simply too busy working on his speech to take detailed control of the visit agenda and left it up to his staff to organise. They then pulled the plug on the visit after getting the brush off from the Pentagon, and told him that the Pentagon had vetoed a campaign stop at the hospital, and Obama didn’t think to ask if it was a visit as such that had been vetoed or just a campaign event at the hospital – after all, his people were supposed to be taking care of it. As I said, this is the charitable interpretation, but I’m not going to rule it out just because I’m sceptical of Obama.

    “You really need to maintain a critical distance from your candidate’s press releases.”

    Erm, the only one on this thread quoting campaign press releases is you…

    Reply

  8. Stephen
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 20:29:50

    Dude, it’s one of McCain’s ads: youtube.

    And the McCain team is still pushing the story.

    What you have here is a classic “Obama is damned if he does, and damned if he doesn’t” scenario. If Obama had gone to visit the troops, he would have been accused of using the troops for political purposes — just as you do above, because he had a photo op with the troops in Iraq (or Afghanistan — whichever it was).

    But Obama decided it would be unseemly to visit the troops, and so he gets accused of slighting them. It’s a set-up, pure and simple. Whichever way he played it, McCain would declaim that Obama got it wrong.

    Which is, in fact, a matter of using the troops for political gain. And therefore it’s shameful politicking.

    btw, in addition to the Obama team’s criticism of McCain, I also quoted a report from MSNBC, which seems to have dug into the facts. If other media are not demonstrating similar diligence, perhaps the media aren’t in Obama’s pocket quite as much as McCain pretends.

    Reply

  9. Random
    Jul 30, 2008 @ 05:02:26

    “What you have here is a classic “Obama is damned if he does, and damned if he doesn’t” scenario. If Obama had gone to visit the troops, he would have been accused of using the troops for political purposes… Whichever way he played it, McCain would declaim that Obama got it wrong.”

    Really? In that case, I have another challenge for you if you don’t mind. Above you have referenced claims that Obama has frequently visited wounded troops quietly and without publicity, at Walter Reid Memorial Hospital but also in Afghanistan and Iraq. If he really is “damned if he does, and damned if he doesn’t”, can you point me to the McCain campaign press releases criticising him for these visits? Or alternatively any evidence you have that the McCain camp would have treated a visit to Landstuhl differently?

    “he would have been accused of using the troops for political purposes — just as you do above,”

    The only problem with this is that I do no such thing. I am criticising you for your apparent double standard in ferociously objecting to McCain using the troops whilst giving Obama an apparent pass on a much more egregious example of the same thing. There is no word of criticism of Obama there – to be absolutely clear, I believe it is very important that anybody who aspires to the job of commander in chief should spend face time with soldiers in the field, regardless of his motives in doing so. I hope Obama learned something useful.

    Just to stress, in my previous post I offered up a scenario to explain this whole brouhaha that doesn’t really on the “Obama is an arrogant jerk who only cares about wounded soldiers if they are useful to him” meme which is clearly the preferred line of attack on this issue. This was a peace offering if you like, but the more i read on this issue the more convinced I am personally that some variety of my scenario is actually likely to be true. Re-read the Pentagon statement for example – they only ever talk about discussions with Obama’s campaign, rather than with Obama himself.

    Seriously, I’m really not piling on to Obama with this – this whole thread started because an initially quite positive exchange identified that the only real differences between us on the original post were that your summary of the visit was “Obama had a good week, and managed to avoid making any mistakes” and mine was “Obama had a good week, although he made a couple of mistakes.” I honestly didn’t think this would be enough for a bar brawl, but I misunderestimated the power of the internet…

    Reply

  10. Stephen
    Jul 30, 2008 @ 20:23:40

    Random:
    This thread hasn’t turned into a bar brawl. However, it bugs me that you won’t admit your candidate is out of line here. In this thread, I’ve taken a partially critical look at Obama’s trip to Europe. But you don’t appear to be capable of looking critically at your candidate.

    From the front page of today’s Washington Post:

    For four days, Sen. John McCain and his allies have accused Sen. Barack Obama of snubbing wounded soldiers by canceling a visit to a military hospital because he could not take reporters with him, despite no evidence that the charge is true.

    The attacks are part of a newly aggressive McCain operation whose aim is to portray the Democratic presidential candidate as a craven politician more interested in his image than in ailing soldiers, a senior McCain adviser said. …

    The essence of McCain’s allegation is that Obama planned to take a media entourage, including television cameras, to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany during his week-long foreign trip, and that he canceled the visit when he learned he could not do so. “I know that, according to reports, that he wanted to bring media people and cameras and his campaign staffers,” McCain said Monday night on CNN’s “Larry King Live.”

    … In fact, there is no evidence that he planned to take anyone to the American hospital other than a military adviser, whose status as a campaign staff member sparked last-minute concern among Pentagon officials that the visit would be an improper political event.

    You’re offering an alternative scenario, according to which it was Obama’s team (not the candidate himself) who decided not to make the visit to Landstuhl. Fine, whatever. But if that scenario is accurate, then McCain is guilty of twisting the facts. And using the troops for political gain.

    I realize that every candidate throws a low blow once in a while. I don’t except Obama, although I think he’s been more sinned against than sinning when it comes to cheap smears.

    It would be nice if you could recognize that your candidate is the one throwing a low blow on this occasion.

    Reply

  11. Random
    Jul 31, 2008 @ 04:23:45

    “It would be nice if you could recognize that your candidate is the one throwing a low blow on this occasion.”

    Yep, it’s a low blow. It’s not as low as “100 years of war” (which you defended) or “losing his bearings”, but if your side is prepared to dish it out you really have no right to complain when you’re asked to take it.

    Whether it’s a legitimate criticism or not is a different issue, however.

    Look, as I understand it, the only undisputed facts about this whole affair are:

    a) The Obama campaign tried to arrange a visit to Landstuhl hospital;
    b) The Pentagon said he could come in his capacity as a US Senator, but had to leave the media and his campaign staff behind;
    c) The Obama campaign then cancelled the planned visit.

    Everything else is interpretation. Frankly, I don’t feel obliged to accept the Obama camp’s interpretation as there are too many holes in it (there still has not been a satisafactory explanation as to why he couldn’t have simply left general Gration behind and visited the troops on his own – as mentioned above after all, you were happy to praise him for having the cojones to face the Israeli media on his own, without advisors – so why not American soldiers?), and I do believe the McCain camp’s chosen explanation is rather on the harsh side and personally prefer my own, more benign, explanation – however I do not believe the McCain explanation is contrary to the evidence, and I don’t blame them for running with it – on the level of pure politics, it is manna from heaven in distracting attention from Obama’s successful overseas tour.

    Reply

  12. Stephen
    Jul 31, 2008 @ 14:52:50

    Why describe it as a low blow if you’re immediately going to turn around and defend it?

    Now McCain’s campaign is describing Obama as “the biggest celebrity in the world” and associating him with Paris Hilton and Britney Spears.

    McCain has a reputation for integrity, but he’s debasing himself, just like the Clintons did. Apparently he’s decided he can’t defeat Obama by matching policy with him, after his humiliating climb-down on Afghanistan and Iraq.

    Reply

  13. Random
    Jul 31, 2008 @ 17:20:58

    “Why describe it as a low blow if you’re immediately going to turn around and defend it?”

    Because if somebody does a low thing (like blowing off wounded soldiers so he can go to the gym -and no I don’t see it that uncharitably myself, but McCain is a veteran who knows what it feels like to be badly injured in an unpopular war the veterans of which were patronised and insulted by the liberal elite of the day, so I am prepared to concede him the right to be hypersensitive about this sort of thing) then calling him on it will look like a low blow, which is why I attempted to make the point about whether or not it was still legitimate criticism.

    “Now McCain’s campaign is describing Obama as “the biggest celebrity in the world” and associating him with Paris Hilton and Britney Spears.”

    Oh, good grief. Have you actually seen the commercial in question? Britney appears on it for perhaps a third of a second – and Paris is on it so briefly I had to watch it three times even to be sure I’d seen her at all. The vast bulk of the ad is a perfectly straightforward criticism of Obama’s opposition to offshore drilling and his support for higher electricity taxes.

    Putting Paris and Britney in it serve precisely two purposes, both legitmate – (1) they get across in a lighthearted if subliminal way the message that Obama is an attractive but deeply superficial character with an achingly slim resume; and (2) they get people talking about the ad and viewing it to see what the fuss is about (it’s working too – at the moment of posting it’s passed a million views on Youtube), and within any luck getting them to think about the serious message in the back three-quarters of the ad. I notice BTW you don’t criticise the McCain camp for including pictures of adoring crowds chanting Obama’s name…

    Free publicitty is vital for a campaign that’s going to be outspent 3 or 4 to 1 by an opponent who’s ratted on a solemn promise to take matching funds, after all.

    Reply

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